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House panel approves red light camera limitations, not repeal


Local governments would have limits on where they can put new red light cameras and how they can use money from ensuing violations under a measure approved by a House committee today. House Bill 7005 is a wide-ranging transporation bill, but among its provisions are updates to the state's red light camera laws that reflect findings from a recent state report.

The House's Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved an amended HB 7005 today. Part of the reason the bill, sponsored by Miami Republican Rep. Frank Artiles, received universal support is that some of the more controversial provisions in the original version were deleted.

For example, HB 7005 originally slashed the fine for red-light camera violations from $158 to $83 by removing the $75 that usually goes to local government agencies. Now, the fine remains the same but local governments have to use at least 70 percent of their proceeds, or $52.50, for traffic safety projects. That can include LED lights, reflective stripes, calibrating the timing of lights at the intersection or paying to have more officers on patrol.

Earlier this year, the state's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability published a study on red-light cameras commissioned by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. He and Artiles both filed proposals to repeal local governments' authority to install red light cameras -- SB 144 and HB 4009 -- but those have not been heard in committee.

Instead, Artiles incorporated recommendations from the OPPAGA report into HB 7005. The bill now requires local governments to complete an engineering study before they install red light cameras in an intersection. And they must report data to the state twice a year outlining intersection safety and the number of citations issued.

The bill also eliminates local governments' ability to write tickets for right-on-red (or left-on-red in one way streets) violations. Now, drivers can only receive citations if there is a pedestrian in a walkway or they otherwise are shown to have failed to yield.

There is no Senate companion to HB 7005. but the Senate can decide to take up the House's bill.